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Monday, December 12, 2005

Identity Formation in Blogging

Blogging about Blogging

7% of the 120 million (8 million) U.S. adults who use the internet say they have created a blog or web-based diary….27% (32 million) of internet users say they read blogs. (cite: http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_blogging_data.pdf).

Out of those 32,000,000 people, roughly 4,000 have visited RightFaith since August 16, 2005. I don’t consider averaging over 1,000 unique hits per month discouraging for a new blog; yet, capturing roughly .0125% of blog readers certainly places things in perspective. Understanding RightFaith’s significance is humbling and it births at least one question that I’m not prepared to answer: What is success?

I presume that if each blog’s author(s) considered the question of purpose, he or she would arrive at different reasons to exist: influence the world, money, self expression, sense of community, or enjoyment. Given the various purposes, how is success measured? Unique visitors, return traffic, Techorati statistics, blog awards, links to your site, TTLB ecosystem ranking, income from advertising are legitimate measurements of success but fleeting. These measures of popularity, even if sustained, are not a measure of success unless your purpose is self-aggrandizement or the simplistic challenge of creating popularity.

To my dismay, I’ve become focused on these numerical measures at times. Matt Drudge, Lori Byrd, Life News or some commentator runs a headline about which I quickly synthesize my thoughts into a formal argument and, after wiping the sweat on my brow, click “publish”. Generally, it creates some traffic, slowly creeps down the page, and then rests forever in the archives. How stressful; how fleeting. While this pattern is acceptable for many bloggers, it leaves me wanting.

There is a much deeper conversation that flows just below the current of human dialogue of which I long to take part, to contribute. So few contribute to this much grander interaction for the pouring out of one’s self into a single post within this category is so complete that it only the with the last ounce of strength that the author can click the publish button. But, once it appears, the black letters blur into paragraphs and nowhere is your supreme effort given account; while many may view the page, few read it. “A piece of writing is an offering,” says Allan Bloom. “You bring it the altar and hope it will be accepted. You pray at least that rejection will not throw you into a rage and turn you into Cain. Perhaps naively, you produce your favorite treats and pile them in an indiscriminate heap. And you do not always feel that you are writing for any contemporaries. It may well be that your true readers are not here as yet and that your [blog] will cause them to materialize.”

The conversation is not for those easily enticed by the lures of hits, links, or update-to-minute news. Those who partake in the conversation of the ages contribute to humanity’s body of knowledge and thirst for the exposition of truth. “The real community of man, in the midst of all the self-contradictory simulacra of community, is the community of those who seek the truth, of potential knowers…of all men to the extent they desire to know (Bloom).

Most bloggers read blogs that reinforce what they believe. The last thing needed after a hard day at work (or during work—shame on you), is adversarial dialogue with strangers. While the anonymity of blogging promotes free expression, it lacks the shame associated with irresponsible words thrown freely. The quest for the common good is neglected by ruthless individuals who are isolated from the consequences of their speech. Civil discourse within a responsible community can not be found in such an environment.

“…Plato was to Aristotle at the very moment they were disagreeing about the nature of the good….They were absolutely one soul as they looked at the problem. This, according to Plato, is the only real friendship, the only real common good. It is here that the contact people so desperately seek is to be found….They have a true community that is exemplary for all the other communities” (Bloom). People, “desperately seek…to be found,” to have community, and to be significant. Is this the appeal of blogging?

Blogging must always be a work in progress; at the moment a blog is defined, it changes or dies. This is the nature of life in the rapidly changing information age. Changes must occur at RightFaith; what they are I do not know. I’ve considered adding a similarly-minded blogger or two, or posting less news and more commentary. My true desire is to enter into the conversation of the ages, though to do this I know I must sacrifice the addiction of numbers but then for whom am I posting? If only blogging were the devotion of my life. As it stands now, its just a hobby that has captured my affection.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

ACLU funded by Progressive Insurance CEO

Peter Lewis, CEO of Progressive Insurance, recently gave the ACLU 8.5 million dollars to aid, among other things, in their war against Christmas and their defense of terrorism (NYTimes, Section A; Column 1). According the AP, in July 2001 Lewis gave 7 million dollars to the ACLU.
The top executive of Progressive Corporation has donated $7 million to the American Civil Liberties Union. Officials say it's the largest gift ever by an individual.

Peter Lewis earmarked $5 million of yesterday's grant for the organization's drug-policy litigation project, which is challenging such practices as drug testing in schools and restrictions on medical marijuana. The ACLU of Ohio Foundation and the national ACLU received a million apiece.

Lewis is chairman of the auto insurer in the Cleveland suburb of Mayfield. He's been an ACLU member since 1972. He also argues for such issues as providing rehabilitation instead of jail for drug offenders. Lewis was arrested for marijuana possession in January of 2000 in New Zealand(cite).
Lewis, an ACLU member since 1972, said that the ACLU does critically important work to protect individual freedoms in this country and that he has been an admirer of this work for years...“Their work doesn't seem to have an end; many of these battles have been re-fought by each succeeding generation," added Lewis. “That's why I've invested in the ACLU.” (cite)

Reclaim America reported that Lewis gave an 8 million dollars gift in 2003.
Peter B. Lewis, chairman and CEO of Progressive Auto Insurance, recently donated $8 million to the ACLU. In 2001, he donated $7 million to match a $14 million challenge from the Ford Foundation(cite).
It unclear whether this gift is separate from the 8.5 million reported by the NY Times. If separate donations, the most recent gift bring Lewis' 4 year total to 23.5 million dollars.

The American Family Association has established two ways to contact Peter Lewis expressing your displeasure:

Click here if you have a Progressive policy

Click here if you do not have a Progressive policy
Trackbacked at the much frequented Stop the ACLU

Biological, Adoptive, Foster and DeFacto?

In Washington, the state supreme court ruled yesterday that a former lesbian, live-in can seek parental rights for the child of a former lover. In what the majority opinion calls "de facto parent," former lesbian lovers have now may granted the same legal rights biological and adoptive parents. The 7-2 decision states, "Neither the United States Supreme Court nor this court has ever held that 'family' or 'parents' are terms limited in their definition by a strict biological prerequisite."

In like manner, today a farmer filed a lawsuit on behalf of a horse desiring the parental rights of a neighbor's child. The lawsuit stated that both in spatial proximity and the closeness that the animal felt to the child while she was riding it, that full legal rights should be granted. When asked whether or not the animal provided parental care for the child, the horse responded by saying [via the farmer], "I provided transportation, recreation, and friendship. She told me her secrets and we loved spending time together. She spent more time with me than her biological parents. And, after all, "Neither the United States Supreme Court nor this court has ever held that 'family' or 'parents' are terms limited in their definition by a strict biological prerequisite."

Ridiculous? Absolutely. Debunk this mytholgy takes us back to freshmen year, Logic 101: Logical Fallacies. Argumentum ex silentio [argument silence] is a logical fallacy that states, “silence about something does not imply its positive or negative correlation.” For example, I ask a question that you choose not to answer. This does mean you consented to a positive or negative response to my question. In like manner, just because the SCOTUS has not defined family or parent does not mean we should let lesbians and horses claim parental rights.

In the dissenting opinion, Justice James Johnson stated, "Regardless of the various sexual orientation claims, the outcome must be that a mother has a fundamental right to make decisions for her child," he wrote. "...Worse, in my view, the majority here looks beyond a detailed and complete statutory scheme adopted by the Washington Legislature and creates by judicial decree a new method for determining parentage." That's right, the court ignored the "complete statutory scheme adopted by the Washington Legislature" and advocated for judicial activism in its most explicit sense.

Was defining "parentage" so difficult in the 1950's? Mom and dad were the majority options; some lesser used terms included foster mom or step-dad. Now we have donor-dads, both my mommies, and now “de facto parents”. Are our children better off now than they were in then? In no sense, form or fashion, could anyone answer positively. The confusion over parent identity creates an unsafe environment inspiring a lack of confidence and a lack of stability essential to producing healthy children. Our children suffer at the hands of unelected and unaccountable judges bent on redefining our societal norms.

RIGHTFAITH: Where everything favors the stewardship of patrimony. All content is believed to be correct but may be amended based upon new information. The content of this page may be republished with proper citation without the expressed consent of the author. This site is not, in any manner whatsoever, associated with the religious philosophism from the Indian penninsula. All comments or emails to the author become the property of the author and may be published or deleted without notice or reason provided. Copyrighted 2005.

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